No hiding place
At the time of writing my last blog on June 21st, I thought that the worst might be over. Dismal performances against the US and Algeria would surely be long forgotten by now as the England soccer team, as is their tradition, improved as the World Cup progressed. Alas, it was to get even worse, with the embarrassment of a 4-1 thrashing by Germany.
England’s performance in the previous World Cup in 2006 was a similar shambles and was followed by the appointment of the Italian, Fabio Capello. Capello had a great pedigree as a coach and impressive performances in the qualifying stages led all of England to have high hopes for South Africa.
The optimism quickly evaporated as the England team visibly wilted under the spotlight. But so too did the coach! Capello clearly felt the pressure and this appeared to transcend to the players whose lacklustre performances and tense faces were unable to hide the fear of losing that consumed them.
This is the impact leaders can have on their people; the problem is that most leaders don’t realize it! Many are just unaware of the impression they are portraying to their people and when someone enquires about the cause of their stress, they typically respond “what stress?”
Leaders are continually under the spotlight, and even more so in the current turbulent times. Their people watch their every move and analyze their every word, looking for weakness and frailty that is a sign that they, too, should be worried. This is when outstanding leadership is so crucial; of course, it also just happens to be when outstanding leadership is so very difficult to deliver! People need and want to be able to trust their leaders in these difficult times and see a composure that has a calming effect.
This is what apparently didn’t happen in the England team’s camp!